Vail Symposium delves into the nature of life and death |

Vail Symposium delves into the nature of life and death

Wednesday's Zoom discussion takes a look at what near-death experiences can teach us

Katie Coakley
Special to the Daily

Life and death are inextricably intertwined, but often we think of them as linear — one happens after the other. However, what if death — or near-death experiences — could teach us about life?

On Wednesday, from 6-7 p.m. on Zoom, the Vail Symposium welcomes Bruce Greyson, M.D., professor emeritus of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia, to discuss the nature of life and death.

“Dr. Greyson is a world-recognized expert in the field of (near-death experience) research,” said Claire Noble, the Vail Symposium’s director of programming. “He brings a researcher’s perspective to the subject combined with personal experience.”


What: Crossing the Threshold: The Continuity of Consciousness From This Life To The Next

When: Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Program from 6-7 p.m. MST

Where: Zoom Webinar

More information: This program is free. Please register at for more information.

Dr. Greyson has been studying near-death experiences for almost a half-century. In this presentation, he will share some of his most important findings on the nature of life and death, illustrating his research data with captivating examples.

Greyson will discuss issues such as challenges in researching near-death experiences, establishing the reality of them. The discussion will explore the most common features of the experience, including enhanced thinking and perception, the life review and out-of-body experiences, highlighting features that are independent of cultural or religious beliefs; and various models that have been proposed to explain near-death experiences, including the relationship of near-death experiences to mental illness, to various alterations in brain biology and to psychological factors.

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As startling as some of these findings are, however, Greyson’s primary interest as a psychiatrist is in how near-death experiences dramatically transform those who’ve experienced them. In this presentation, he will discuss changes in attitudes toward life and death, changes in spirituality and changes in behavior — both positive and challenging aftereffects.

Finally, he will discuss the implications of near-death experiences for our understanding of mind and brain, including how consciousness can persist after brain activity has stopped; for our understanding of the possibility of postmortem survival, including what near-death experiences say about God and about heaven and hell; and for our understanding of the relationship between biological and spiritual events and what that implies for what it means to be human.

He will conclude the presentation with practical takeaways for what near-death experiences mean for all of us and for how we can craft a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

About the speaker

Greyson is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the UVA School of Medicine. He served on the medical school faculty at the Universities of Michigan, Connecticut and Virginia. He was a co-founder and president of the International Association for Near-Death Studies and editor of the Journal of Near-Death Studies.

His award-winning research led him to become a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and to be invited by the Dalai Lama to participate in a dialogue between Western scientists and Buddhist monks in India.

“After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond” (2021) is the culmination of almost half a century of his scientific research.

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